Crimmigration Resistance and the Case of Sanctuary City Defunding

74 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2018 Last revised: 22 Feb 2018

See all articles by Annie Lai

Annie Lai

University of California, Irvine School of Law

Christopher N. Lasch

University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Date Written: December 31, 2017


Transformations in the fields of immigration and criminal law have given rise to a cogent and vital body of literature examining the growing linkages between these two systems in recent years. In this article, we discern two broad strands of critique in the "crimmigration" literature. "Delineating" critiques seek to disrupt the conflation of immigration enforcement with crime control in the hopes of trying to reverse some of distorting, dignity-stripping effects of migrant criminalization. "Synthesizing" critiques, on the other hand, expand their gaze to probe some of the parallel logics, cultural values and environmental factors that may be driving practices in both systems.

With this typology in mind, we explore resistance to the Trump Administration's attempts to withdraw funds from so-called "sanctuary" jurisdictions. We observe the limited extent to which delineation and synthesis critiques have been featured in litigation challenging the Administration's actions and sketch out a vision for more robust crimmigration resistance to sanctuary defunding. Additionally, we expand the framework by considering how delineation and synthesis critiques--and a spectrum of intermediate positions--might be understood as responses to a logical syllogism about crimmigration. Our case study leads us to ask whether jurisdictions confronted with the prospect of losing Department of Justice (DOJ) law enforcement grants may do better to reject those funding streams entirely. In concluding, we suggest that our framework might be productively applied to other contested issues at the intersection of immigration and criminal law.

Keywords: immigration, crimmigration, sanctuary, social movements

Suggested Citation

Lai, Annie and Lasch, Christopher N., Crimmigration Resistance and the Case of Sanctuary City Defunding (December 31, 2017). Santa Clara Law Review, Vol. 57, No.3, 2018, UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2018-04, Criminal Justice, Borders and Citizenship Research Paper No. 3094952, U Denver Legal Studies Research Paper No. 18-04, Available at SSRN:

Annie Lai (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )

401 E. Peltason Dr.
Ste. 1000
Irvine, CA 92697-1000
United States

Christopher N. Lasch

University of Denver Sturm College of Law ( email )

2255 E. Evans Avenue
Denver, CO 80208
United States
303-871-6368 (Phone)

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